By Mike Lomax, Marketing and Communications Manager, Tarmac
Last year saw a new campaign waged, one that might seem of little relevance to builders: the battle against plastic bags. A simple 5p charge was introduced to improve our collective sustainability and, importantly, to fight against waste. However this war against waste has relevance beyond the realm of aisles and checkouts.
Builders and the wider construction industry have an opportunity to address waste and to promote the efficient use of resources. Doing so not only helps the industry improve its sustainability, but also its profitability. The government is looking to make this happen through the Sustainable Construction Strategy, which is expected to aim for zero waste to landfill by 2020. These targets might seem abstract but their success will depend on the actions of builders.
Recent figures have shown that construction, refurbishment and demolition account for around 100 million tonnes of waste in the UK each year, with just over half of this waste being recycled. Moreover, around 60 million tonnes of materials are thrown away due to over ordering, contributing significantly to both financial and material waste within the industry.
Material usage. Construction workers need to use sustainable materials where possible and make sure that products are recycled properly. When rebuilding on an existing site, a demolition audit should be undertaken to identify which materials from the existing structure can be re-used and how any materials that need to be removed can be reprocessed.
Some old habits do need to be disposed of. The current practice of splitting a 25kg bag of cement in half can be wasteful, since the unused half is regularly thrown away after becoming unusable. That is why we have developed the ‘Perfect Mix’ cement bag which is just 12.5kg, meaning that there is no wasted product – a better option for the environment and for your pocket.
As an industry, construction is making good strides to ensure that we are more sustainable.
Take insulation, an issue that the industry has been addressing for some time now. Statistics have shown that over 60 per cent of a home’s heat can be lost through un-insulated walls and lofts, causing around two tonnes of excess CO2 to be released per household per year. It is therefore welcome that the implementation of double glazed windows and insulated walls has become the norm.
At Tarmac we have taken great care in placing this waste-reducing philosophy at the core of our business. We have developed systems that not only help us to reduce waste and use resources carefully in our own processes but which also enable us to re-use by-products and waste materials from other sectors. This means that we are overall net users of waste.
We place sustainability at the heart of all we do and we want to provide products that help builders be more sustainable. Simple, everyday habits can make a real difference, whilst the wider industry needs to continue innovating to ensure that it continues on the path to sustainability.